Three entrepreneurs in Finland have launched 52nd Ventures, the first Nordic venture builder, to cultivate the Finnish startup ecosystem and strengthen economic prospects for companies, employees, and the country as a whole.
Taneli Tikka, Mikko Riikkinen, and Stefano Mosconi all have a sober but aspirational outlook on the state of tech in Finland. Simply put, it is not fulfilling its potential.
“The Finnish startup ecosystem has everything other than the startups. We have expertise, coworking facilities, accelerators, subsidies, investors. But if a billion euros invested did not generate more than eighteen startups exceeding €10 million in revenue, then perhaps it is high time to try something new,” says Riikkinen, a fintech expert and doctoral researcher at the University of Tampere.
Past investments and business models in Finland have had such unimpressive performance that the founders see the country losing its best people to more attractive startup scenes.
“Finnish talent is constantly flowing abroad, so I want to show myself that there can be another direction,” said Mosconi, a native Italian and co-founder of Jolla mobile phones.
Their answer? To launch the first venture builder in the Nordics. A venture builder, also known as a startup studio, tests and scales new business ideas until those ideas are viable enough for investment. Once funding is secured, either from the venture builder or elsewhere, the offspring business can set out as an independent company. Berlin-based Rocket Internet is a famous example of such a model.
Unlike the sky-high ROI expectations of many venture capitalist firms, 52nd Ventures has its sights set on a more realistic, middle-distance goal. It aims to populate the Finnish ecosystem with enough startups that have over €10 million in revenue (what the firm calls “reindeer”), so that the scene is ripe enough for billion-euro unicorns to eventually emerge.
“We want to create a culture of testing and collegial learning to build startups that Supercell has succeeded in doing for games. This requires not only large financial resources but also a large community of experts. We believe that in Finland we have the opportunity to both,” said Taneli Tikka.